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[Editorial] `Special` Committee on 4-river Project

Posted December. 30, 2009 08:33,   


The ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed Tuesday to set up a national committee on the four-river restoration project. Experts from all walks of life will review the project’s budget. After the two parties separated the project’s costs from next year’s budget bill, the Democratic Party proposed forming the committee and the ruling party agreed. They disagreed, however, over when it should be set up. The opposition wants the committee to immediately discuss the project’s budget while the ruling party wants to wait until after passage of next year’s government budget.

The public is at a loss over this. The Democratic Party has occupied a conference hall at the National Assembly`s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts in protest of the river project’s budget while refusing to deliberate on next year’s budget bill. Had the party wanted to discuss the necessity of the project, the appropriateness of its budget, and the project’s relation to the scrapped grand canal plan, it should have actively participated in the deliberation process instead of boycotting it. If it felt the need to form the committee for the project, it should have proposed it much earlier. It is a mystery why the opposition party pushed for the committee just three days before the deadline for the budget deliberation.

The Korean public clearly remembers what a committee for media advancement did. The committee was set up at the request of the Democratic Party when the ruling and opposition parties locked horns other over media reform bills. Committee members from both sides engaged in heated debate over 100 days, but no progress was made. The ruling party ended up railroading the bills through parliament amid fierce opposition from the Democratic Party. Setting up a separate committee outside of the National Assembly is not only a ludicrous act, but also an avoidance of responsibility.

Ruling party floor leader Ahn Sang-soo proposed Tuesday to the Democratic Party to finish negotiations over the budget bill at both the budget committee and the plenary parliamentary session before putting it to a free vote. If the bill fails to pass the Assembly by tomorrow, an emergency budget is required. If so, the Korean people will suffer the most. Given the consequences if the budget bill fails to pass, both parties must finish negotiations and hold a free vote. As the U.S. Congress has settled disputes over healthcare reform bill through votes, Korean lawmakers should also do the same thing. This is standard practice in a parliamentary democracy.

The idea of establishing a separate committee is nonsensical and useless. The ruling party must reject this idea. If it agrees to it as a means of compromise with the Democratic Party, next year’s budget bill must be dealt with separately.